Caring for sensitive teeth
It is important to see your dentist if you have one or more sensitive teeth. They will examine the teeth to find the cause of the sensitivity and let you know how to treat it. At your appointment, your dentist may discuss your eating, drinking and oral hygiene habits. It is important for them to be aware of lifestyle factors such as regularly drinking soft drinks, which may be causing your sensitive teeth.
If the tooth sensitivity is due to tooth decay or fillings already present in the tooth that are starting to break down, this needs to be treated. After treatment, the sensitivity should go away. The sensitivity may get worse and turn into bad pain if these issues are not treated.
Sensitive teeth that have dentine that is exposed may be treated by placing a covering over this dentine. This covering could be a filling or a layer of fluoride gel. This fluoride is stronger than your daily toothpaste. Research has shown that these gels can help decrease dentine sensitivity.
Some toothpastes are made for the specific purpose of treating sensitive teeth. These are called desensitizing toothpastes. Ingredients that help to treat tooth sensitivity work by two main methods.
- The nerves in the teeth are soothed so they no longer respond to the stimuli.
- A barrier is created over the sensitive dentine stopping it from responding to stimuli.
Ingredients in desensitizing toothpaste that are added to treat sensitive teeth include potassium nitrate, arginine and calcium carbonate, strontium chloride, stannous fluoride, and calcium sodium phosphosilicate.
If tooth decay has developed and is causing your tooth sensitivity, using desensitizing toothpaste will not treat the decay, this must be done by a dentist.